Thursday, April 9, 2009


Good evening. This is your Captain.
We are about to attempt a crash landing.
Please extinguish all cigarettes.
Place your tray tables in their
upright, locked position.
Your Captain says: Put your head on your knees.
Your Captain says: Put your head on your hands.
Captain says: Put your hands on your head.
Put your hands on your hips. Heh heh.
This is your Captain-and we are going down.
We are all going down, together.
And I said: Uh oh. This is gonna be some day.
Standby. This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Uh-this is your Captain again.
You know, I've got a funny feeling I've seen this all before.
Why? 'Cause I'm a caveman.
Why? 'Cause I've got eyes in the back of my head.
Why? It's the heat. Standby.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

Put your hands over your eyes.
Jump out of the plane. There is no pilot. You are not alone. Standby.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.
This is the time. And this is the record of the time.

From the air, Laurie Anderson

In 1982, Laurie Anderson, a Mahattan based artist, launched the album Big Science. The intensity that (still) communicates the album derived from a cyclic series of performances called United States I-IV: a combination of projected images, recitation in the form of spoken words and minimalistic music. According to Stephen Holden (Rolling Stone Magazine, 1982), the album had an “apocalyptic conception of America´s technological might”. Big Science after all, not only made Anderson an internationally known artist but also would play a major role in her future career as music would have become one of her main interests. From the Air was the first song.

Since that time, but especially after the terrorist attacks that took place in September 11-2001, the song has turned out to be a reference for many other artists dealing with the complexity of the terrorist attacks political repercussions. Mr. Lif, a Hip-hop artist from Boston, used Anderson’s From the air melody as a sample for the song Home of the Brave. Needless to say is that the lyrics describing a plane in the process of descending and attempting a crash landing, is a metaphor strong enough to recall what happened.

But I am not in the position of making a historical review on Laurie Anderson’s work whatsoever. From the air is also the name of one of the two installations Anderson is showing at Location 1 until May 2, 2009. The resulting installation is, appropriately, full-of-air: a dark room where you
can only see a small size three dimensional projection of a lady (Anderson herself) and a dog, both sitting on a couple of white armchairs, located in one of the room’s corners. This tiny woman tells a story about herself and her dog, extracted form the performance The End of the moon, a piece which starting point was the residence she had with NASA.

The story starts by telling how the corner where she lives in Downtown Manhattan has become a police check point for the last three years, a reason to make her get out of town as much as possible. In one of those getaways she went to the mountains and decided to conduct an experiment to see if she could learn how to talk with her dog, LolaBelle, a Rat Terrier. Terriers are working and security dogs, so they constantly do perimeter checks looking for suspicious holes, tiny breaks in the wall and irregularities. She has heard that these dogs can understand as much as 500 words and she wanted to know which they were. Being isolated in the mountains was an ideal situation to conduct the experiment. One day, walking down the hill, the whole idea of the experiment was forgotten as she saw some turkey-vultures first circling and then swooping down right in front of her. Right after dropping down, she realized the birds were hovering and floating above LolaBelle; they were changing plans, as she says, calculating: once they had descended, the dog appeared as too big an animal to be grabbed from the neck. Then, she looked at LollaBelle’s face and noticed a brand new expression:

At first, it was the realization that she was a prey and that theses birds have come to kill her. And second, it was the realization that they can come from the air…

The dog discovered a whole new gate and acquired a new look like if there was something wrong with the air.

And I thought: where have I seen this look before? And then I realized that it was the same look on the faces of my neighbors in New York in the days right after 9-11. And I suddenly realized first: that they can come from the air; and second: that it would be that way from now on…it would always be that way. And we have passed through a door and we will never be going back.


The idea of a constant disaster descending from the skies helped to create a profound wound on America’s proud and soul. At the same time, it favored the rising of a way of thinking and acting based on the idea of terrorism. Supported by it, western countries have developed a violent war against terror, a huge mistake that only has lead us to foster terrorism in both Islamic and non Islamic countries. This war has inherited a history of ideological extremisms, illegal aggression in Christian disguise and a rampage full of ignorance against Islamic religions. It appears as if we need to change the authors we read in order to cope up with the actual situation. Stop reading Sun Tzu’s The art of war! we need to say to western governors; we now need to learn some more of The art of statesmanship, as the judge and journalist Juergen Todenhoefer (Why do you kill? 2009) proposes it.

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